Sake Glossary

Daiginjo

Daiginjō is the highest grade of sake and, accordingly, the most expensive. The degree of rice polishing needs to be at least 50%, but can be as high 35% – meaning that 75% of rice has been milled away. The fine qualities of daiginjō are not simply defined by the degree of milling, but also the quality of brewing and superior flavour profile.

 

Genmai

Unpolished, or brown, rice.

 

Genshu

Undiluted sake. Naturally occurring alcohol content of sake is around 18-20 percent. Such alcohol content can overwhelm the flavour, so brewers will usually add pure water to bring down the alcohol content to 15-16 percent. However, not all genshu is higher in alcohol – a variety of brewing methods, such as stopping fermentation early, can stabilise alcohol content at lower levels.

Genshu of about 20 percent alcohol is sometimes served on the rocks.

 

Genmai-zake

Sake made with unpolished (brown) rice.

 

Ginjo

Premium sake made with rice polished to less than 60% of the original grain size.  This is a grade of sake.

 

Jizake

Sake made by small, independent kura, often using locally grown rice.

 

Junmai 

Pure rice sake, made without any addition of brewer’s alcohol. A grade of sake.

 

Junmai Ginjō/Junmai Daiginjō

Premium sake made without any addition of brewer’s alcohol.

 

Kōji

Special mould that “malts” the rice. In other words, it turns rice starches into sugars that can be processed by yeast. Widely used in food fermentation in Asia, including fermenting soy beans.

 

Kura

Sake brewery, also known as sakagura.

 

Kurabito

Sake brewery workers

 

Kuramoto

Brewery owner

 

Nama/Namazake

Unpasteurised sake.  “Rawness” can impart qualities of freshness and liveliness of flavour. Namazake should always be refrigerated, or live bacteria can continue their work and spoil the sake.

 

Sakagura

Sake brewery, also known as kura.

 

Seimaibuai

Degree of rice milling. Indicates how much of the original grain size is left after milling. For example, seimaibuai of 40 means that 60% of the grain has been milled away. Minimum seimaibuai for ginjō is 60% (40% milled away), daiginjō – 50%, honjōzo – 70% (30% milled away).

 

Tōji

Master brewer